Surveillance couture: Jawbone release the UP2 and UP3 fitness trackers
One of technology's great paradoxes is our attitude to data. As a society we get ever more paranoid about the secret life of our bits and bytes and the nefarious purposes it might be put to once it's left our hands, yet at the same time we're hell bent on filling up the digital vaults with as much information as possible.
A case in point: the fitness tracker. The humble pedometer continues to evolve into an all purpose personal coach, taking real-time information and tracking the ups and downs of your daily life. Jawbone are the current masters of this data driven lifestyle. The company's new UP2 and UP3 wristbands bring with them a host of new sensors, better accuracy, elegant water resistant cases and, most importantly of all, smarter software.
From the outset, the UP devices are shaped and styled to be worn for 24 hours a day. Lighter, more durable and frankly better looking than many of their competitors, each band sits comfortably on the wrist, although it never quite melts away into invisibility. If you don't wear a watch you might resent the intrusion; if you do then you'll probably have to use your other wrist. Either way, you need to be committed.
>Rest assured, the devices are very much in your service. The UP3 is the more sophisticated of the pair, with a sensor suite that includes an accelerometer, bioimpedance sensors, and skin and ambient temperature sensors. In a nutshell, you can now add resting heart rate and sleep tracking to your list of chartable daily attributes. Modes can be switched between by swiping and tapping on the device, and there's no screen; instead, tiny LEDs and gentle vibrations provide updates and data is delivered to your phone via Bluetooth.
The health benefits of knowing so much about your routines and fitness status become evident as you load the app with day after day of data. Jawbone's 'Smart Coach' automatically prompts suggestions – drink more water, get an early night, take another few hundred paces – comparing your information to the massive bank it has collated from other UP users over the years.
Both UP2 and UP3 place great emphasis on bulking up the quality and quantity of your sleep. By tracking movement and pulse, the devices put together a convincing picture of your nocturnal routine, even claiming to detect when you're in deep, light or REM sleep modes. All of this information enters the Jawbone app as a neatly designed set of personal charts that becomes compulsive to check.
Fitness buffs and power walkers will relish the UP system, but it's also an entertaining – and hopefully healthy – diversion for the rest of us. Seamless, supportive and strangely addictive, the UP habit is an endearing one.